3 Ways (and 3 Watch-Outs) to Supporting Brand Strategy on Social Media

There is a lot of great marketing these days on social media.  I often hear social media experts talk about the objective of “creating engagement” on social media and brands big and small are doing just that in really creative ways.  Here are some examples I like of creating engagement while remaining true to Brand Strategy, as well as some watch-outs that represent room for improvement:

Supporting Brand Strategy – A great way to use social media is to give Event Marketing a second life.  Pepsi is doing a lot of cool stuff around their Super Bowl halftime event sponsorship which they’ve bookended with a Grammy’s halftime show that allows them to create engagement over several weeks of time.  Interviews with Grammy nominee artists and NFL stars, mobile ‘street’ halftime shows in cities around the country, it all gets their #Halftime hashtag trending in a way that supports Pepsi’s long-standing Brand Strategy of associating Pepsi with celebrities and pop culture.  It also adds value to Facebook fans in a way that puts watch-worthy, engage-able content first and the brand second.

Pepsi Halftime Pepsi Grammy Halftime2 Pepsi Halftime TourPepsi Bottle Boys

Watch-Out – Brand Narcissism on social media is when brands like to tell us how great they are, sometimes in the form of a question such as, “how great do you think we are?”  Despite all of Pepsi’s herculean and huge budget efforts to put cool stuff on Facebook, they occasionally dip into this realm.  I love Pepsi and I buy Pepsi Next like it’s going to be discontinued next week (R.I.P. Coke C2), but what am I supposed to say to this?

Pepsi Blue Love2Pepsi Winter Blues


Supporting Brand Strategy:  7 For All Mankind does a great job of providing value-added content on a far smaller budget than Pepsi or other major fashion brands that can afford A-lister associations.  Instead of Grammy winners and NFL stars they go with B-list celebrities and fashion bloggers to provide associations that are still credible and engaging along with user-friendly links to ‘shop this style’. This budget-friendly imagery does a great job of reflecting their Brand Strategy around fashion-forward denim.

7FAM Kat 7FAM Blondie7FAM Amber

Watch-Out: Brand ProMISSe (thinking about trademarking that) is when a post has nothing to do with or is antithetical to the Brand Promise.  When I go to the 7FAM website I read about “premium denim….a hybrid of fashion and innovation,” which sounds terrific. Then I go to their facebook page and get….this?

7 For All Mankind Breakfast


I get that this is ‘attitudinal’ imagery, but I don’t really see the connection to a skinny jeans brand.  Eddie Bauer, REI, Patagonia, they could all post this and it might make some sense as a ‘lumberjack breakfast’.  One of 7’s Facebook fans captioned this one best…

7 For All Mankind Comment


Supporting Brand Strategy:  Social media is a great way to share longer-form video content that gets a brand’s personality and storyline across in a way that a 15 or 30 second TV spot can’t.  Heineken has been a master of this strategy over the years, coming up with great video that puts entertainment first and the brand second.  This is a Euro-targeted video featuring soccer stars (whom I know little about) and is in Spanish.  Yet even to me this is a thoroughly enjoyable piece that delivers on Heineken’s Brand Strategy around mischievous fun in a way that incorporates the brand without turning it into a TV advertisement.

Heineken Film Post

Watch-Out:  No matter how much Brand Managers may love their TV ads, I’ve never seen them as engaging social media content. McDonald’s makes some very good TV ads. They have a $2 Billion media budget so if you own a TV and turn it on for an hour there is a very good chance you are going to see one. Do they need to also post all of them on Facebook? Most people don’t want to talk about TV ads unless they are unusually buzz-worthy, and talk is what you’re trying to get people to do on social media.

McDonalds TV Ad PostMcDonalds TV2

In summary, marketers and agencies are largely doing a great job of finding creative and engaging ways to generate conversation around their brands on social media.  The rule of thumb is to think entertaining and conversation-worthy first, brand second.  That is a tall order for Brand Managers because we love our brands and we want to shout them from the rooftops, but on social media we sometimes need to sit on our hands and, well, just make conversation.

Williams Food Marketing | Minneapolis, MN, USA | hugh@williamsfoodmarketing.com
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